The Joshua Tree Tour 2017

Jul
12
2017
Berlin, DE / Olympic Stadium
with Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds 27
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'The very heart of Europe.'

Beth Nabi (@bethandbono) is traveling Europe documenting U2 fan tattoos at all The Joshua Tree 2017 European shows for the U2 Tattoo Project (http://U2TattooProject.com ). Here Beth reviews this week's show in Berlin.

An American chasing an Irish band through the United States, the UK, and Europe on The Joshua Tree 2017 tour, I found myself in Berlin yesterday a stranger in a strange land. Everything that comes so easily back home is now a challenge abroad: counting change, navigating the subway, finding your ticket entrance. The differences make you feel like an outsider. But when Larry's militant drumbeats kick in on "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and Bono's voice calls out from the catwalk—"oh oh oh"—and the crowd echoes back, you realize you're all sharing the same language tonight. The crowd sang louder and jumped higher than most audiences I've been in in America, and I sang and jumped with them. And the Germans know how to organize a stadium wave.

There was a sense of awe for being in the Olympiastadion—such an historic venue—and even more for being in Berlin, as Bono called it, "the very heart of Europe."

Last night, as I stood in the rain on the floor of the stadium, I wondered how U2 would resurrect The Joshua Tree in Berlin after coming to the city 27 years ago to chop it down. And how they would pull off playing an album rooted in 1980s America in 2017 Europe. But, there's nothing Bono loves more than paradox.

U2 ran into the arms of Berlin to "dream it all up again" after the huge commercial and critical success of The Joshua Tree. Experiencing division, dislocation, angst and self-doubt, the band turned to their heroes to help find the next expression of themselves. David Bowie and Iggy Pop both recorded seminal albums at Hansa Studios in Berlin, so U2 set out for the city, as the perpetual pilgrims they are, to find their new musical purpose - what would become Achtung Baby. As the Berlin wall was being torn down and the city underwent the struggles of reunification to find a new identity, so too would U2.

Bono's recurring theme of unification and solidarity and tearing down walls was never more pronounced than in the home of the infamous Berlin Wall - the symbol of the Cold War and divide between communism and democracy, the symbol of lack of freedom. That the wall is now asunder was highlighted in "Miss Sarajevo,"  (renamed "Miss Syria" on this tour) when clauses from Article 1 of the Grundgesetz (Germany's Constitution) regarding inviolable human dignity and personal freedom scrolled in German on wide-screen photographs of Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

And the show took its usual jab at those who would build walls: As a prelude to "Exit," the screen featured a snippet from a 1950s episode of the American western TV series "Trackdown," in which a snake oil salesman named "Trump" claims he will build a wall in order to protect the town from the end of the world. In America, the video is met with mostly cheers but some jeers, depending on who you're standing next to - typifying the polarized political climate and continuing great divide in my country. Last night on the floor, I heard laughter as the overwhelming response. Perhaps rightfully so, as Berliners know a thing or two about walls meant to separate "us" from "them."

That vignette certainly brings back the origins of The Joshua Tree, as an ode to two opposing Americas. Not necessarily left and right, but imagined and realized. Thirty years later, the struggle still wages on between what America is and what it can be.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was featured, as she's been in the States, in the "Herstory" video as the band played "Ultra Violet," a fitting homage to her efforts—against some opposition—not to close Germany's borders. Ironically, on this day the U.S. refugee program surpassed the Trump administration's 50,000-person cap as imposed by his revised "travel ban," denying refugees from not just Syria but all over the world entry into the country. When "Miss Sarajevo" was played in the U.S., the words enshrined in the Statue of Liberty were displayed: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…."

As Bono thanked the Germans for their Nachbarschaft, or "neighborliness," he proclaimed, "You've got to stand up for who you are - we can work together." He added, "If the one thing we can agree on is important enough, we can work together - one Europe." Much of Bono's speechifying last night also thanked Germany for its commitment to human rights, and was followed by an impassioned appeal during "Mothers of the Disappeared" to Turkey's President Erdoğan to stop human rights abuses.

While the setlist of the concert wasn't significantly different from shows in the United States, the context was. The show is still anchored by the main set of The Joshua Tree album, performed in order and entirety, but Bono's snippets and speechifying created accents that celebrated Berlin and the city's importance to the band.

During "Bad" in the first set, Bono referenced their journey: "Berlin, so many memories for us. Berlin, some ghosts. We came as pilgrims. We still do." He sang extended snippets of Bowie's "Heroes," recorded at Hansa, and the German language version of the song, "Helden." He would later snippet Bowie's "Young Americans" and "This Is Not America" in "Mysterious Ways," and Iggy Pop's "The Passenger," from Lust for Life, which was also recorded at Hansa.

The other theme for snippets was the night's constant rain: Gene Kelley's "Singin' In The Rain" showed up before "Bad" while the show ended with The Beatles' "Rain" after "One." But the rain didn't faze the crowd of 70,000. In fact, as if on cue, it picked up during "One Tree Hill" as Bono sang, "and when it's raining, raining hard, that's when the rain will break my heart." The canopy covering Larry's drum kit added an ethereal quality to the production of Anton Corbijn's landscapes that spread out behind the band - familiar in that we've grown to know them from the album artwork, alien in how different they are from where most of us come from, even in America.

I have made my pilgrimage to Death Valley and the iconic Joshua Tree, the one featured in Anton Corbijn's spectacular photograph on the 1987 album art. There, I experienced a fallen, dying, decaying tree. Last night, I experienced the rebirth, rejuvenation, resurgence, and relevance of The Joshua Tree. The show is a vibrant, immersive production that celebrates the ideals of togetherness, unification, and democracy, in moving song and imagery. U2 fittingly concluded the night with "One," an ode to unification, as Bono sang in the steady rain from under a cowboy hat reminiscent of the tour's first go-round. A migrant in my own way last night, Bono, U2 and my German neighbors welcomed me in. Danke.

If you were at the show in Berlin, tell us all about it. Add your own review and photos below

Beth Nabi (@bethandbono) is Associate Professor of Graphic Design and Digital Media at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. She is currently traveling Europe documenting U2 fan tattoos at all The Joshua Tree 2017 European shows for the U2 Tattoo Project (http://U2TattooProject.com ), an ongoing curation and study of U2 fan tattoos. The Project exhibited last year at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, during the U240 fan celebration of U2's 40th anniversary.

 

COMMENTS

27
starlight666
19 July, 2017
U2 Berlin
We want to see more U2 ( on screen ) next time !!
musicabona
18 July, 2017
Where we celebrated a beautiful U2 night
Having attended U2 shows in Berlin in 2009 and 2015 I enjoyed my return to this city for another memorable concert. Despite the rain the atmosphere among the crowd was enthusiastic. When Larry came out first and began his distinctive drum intro for Sunday Bloody Sunday all fans, including myself, started to cheer. The first songs gave me the great chance to concentrate on the raw power of the band´s early material. Delivering a part of Singin´ In The Rain before Bad Bono did a nice gesture by reacting to the dreary weather. In Berlin-a city that was important for both David Bowie and U2 due to their work in the Hansa Studios-it was moving to listen to the way Bono paid tribute to Bowie as he sang a snippet of Heroes in German. From the early tracks to rock songs like Vertigo the concert allowed me to follow U2´s remarkable musical journey once again. With its huge red screen and Edge´s wonderful guitar intro Where The Streets Have No Name was a true highlight, giving me goose bumps and moments of pure emotion. The visuals containing impressive American landscapes were stunning and reminded me of the different sides of a place some pieces are referring to. From one of my favourite guitar solos (In God´s Country) to the dark intensity of Exit I loved every minute of this special U2 night. Greetings from Austria
Mareike77
16 July, 2017
Yeah, you keep me holding on...
We could barely contain our emotions and our hearts still kept spilling over after the concert when we stopped at a filling station... Here's our late night rendition of RHMT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j_GTbOV5G0&feature=youtu.be
ronald van de wetering
15 July, 2017
The Joshua Tree is pushing U2 back on th
I've witness one of U2 best concert this week in Berlin.The Joshua Tree songs are putting U2 back to what make them unique.Not only musical wise but also visual and spiritual.They were energetic and powerful.I know they don't want going around the world with their "greatest hits" tour but I believe this tour will remind them what makes them great and unique, Hopefully that feeling will reflect the new future materials.Don't try to hard to be contemporary (let Coldplay figure that part out) . Back in the eighties the Joshua Tree songs were so different from anything other releases in those days.....be U2 again.
jhj
15 July, 2017
Family tour to U2 concert
Another great trip to fantastic U2 concert
zoohollander
15 July, 2017
with u2 to u2
the perfect way to reach the stadion
His Bonoship
14 July, 2017
The Unforgettable Four
My 7th U2 concert since 1987 and it was just brilliant
kifl
14 July, 2017
One of many moments in Red zone
I miss the rain
muecke4
14 July, 2017
1987 in Munich and now 2017 in Berlin, R
My first U2 concert was the Joshua Tree Tour in Munich 1987. And now after 30 years later I enjoyed the concert in Berlin 2017 with my old scarf. Your are the best. Hope to see you soon in Germany
TottiU2
14 July, 2017
2 tickets & in between 30 years
The first contact with the music of U2 & their overwhelming live power was the WDR TV broadcast of the "Rockpalast" concert at the Lorely in 1983, me at age 17 & knowing not much about rock music. The energetic music & the shouting out loud voice of Bono went right through my ears into my deepest inner core. Cologne 1987 was my first U2 Show & it is still in memory. The music of these 4 Irish is like a good friend who stays now for almost 35 years. Of course I was in Berlin - #8 - because They were there with all their never ending live power. WOW! Thank You 4 "Singing in the Rain" & staying in the rain, 4 "Heroes, 4 Happy BD 2 Malala, 4 the fantastic sound, 4 the unbelievable perfect high resolution on the screen, 4 more than 2 hours live on stage, 4 the syrian refugee girl, 4 a great version of "Mothers Of The Disappeared" (The Edge!!!), 4 the live harmonica played by Bono, 4 Larry just being Larry,4 the man himself The 4 strings sexy Adam & & &..... I know 2 things exactly: 1. When U2 is on stage, you can be sure there is always something nice & unforgettable happening. 2. If They do something They do it right or none. Thank You 4 making this world a better place, 4 all the inspiration and human spirits filled with love. I hope ONE day I will experience this band live in Dublin, and I hope that ONE day we will have a small beer together just talking about this & that. WALK ON! ONE.org & Still FREE TIBET Love & Piece Thorsten
ur_roses
13 July, 2017
thanks
Thanks for the great show and that you stood the rain last night.
arsenase
13 July, 2017
Energy!
To me, the 2017 Berlin show was a pure blast of energy! All classics played stripped down, nearly no playbacks, just pure Rock'n'Roll! The riffs rughly erupted out of Edge, Larry was in best conditions, Adam the gentle man for what we all love him and Bono's performance was pure passion. Thank u boys, you can still do it! Now heading for Amsterdam :D
Gogme United
13 July, 2017
Red Rocks Berlin style
Wow, what an amazing night this was. I've seen U2 since 1981 and had some great nights already, but this was something else. Managed to avoid all spoilers since the tour started in the US so was totally unprepared. They knocked me off my feet! I was really surprised to hear Sunday Bloody Sunday as opening and all other pre-JT hits in a row. the JT songs were performed really well and the encore was really amazing. The girl brought on stage should be a permanent show element, as she even made Bono smaller than he really is... The rain and freezing wind did the rest, we all felt sorry for the poor people on the pitch and the band on stage, but everyone survived and made the best out of it. Only thing what was bad was the fact that there were no special Berlin t-shirt sold. Maybe the U2 management can still create these? Something like 'I was rained in Berlin'
hennesd
13 July, 2017
Edge on the edge
Right up close in twickenham
lovelyb
13 July, 2017
Bono singing in the rain
The BIG DAY brought rain pouring down on everyone. This could NEVER stop U2 to play their "Joshua Tree" 30th anniversary concert! So Bono was "Singing In The Rain" and 70,000 chanted with him! Larry was out first to take his place starting one of the most unforgettable drum intros of all times "Sunday Bloody Sunday". The thrilling sounds of the following songs brought everybody on the feet to dance! Bono carried us along 30 years of "Joshua Tree" songs - rousing and passionate! What an unforgettable night! Well, I must admit that I will always treasure the memories of ALL U2 concerts I was lucky to enjoy and always felt like being a part of a big community staying together as "One". Thank you guys for enriching my life and encouraging me to "Walk On"! Good luck and see you hopefully soon back at Berlin Olympic Stadium on stage!
13 July, 2017
U2 (the band) vs. U2 (the subway)
To make sure we travel safely to and from the Olympiastadion the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe public transport had released this travel notification to avoid any confusion ;-) So we made it and could experience an amazing concert! Danke to U2 (the band). ... and may you like to practice your German a bit for this BVG post.
Dennis Ahmt
13 July, 2017
Terrible sound quality
I sat in the T3 section and enjoyed the show but not the Music. The Sound quality was unbelievebly bad. At one point I tried to put paper in my ears to filter the sound. When I read the opinions of others, they don't mention poor sound quality at all. How could it be isolated to section T3 alone? Or have others also experienced the horrible sound of an otherwise exelent show. What really bother me about it, is that I had my two daughters with me. It was their first U2 concert and it kind of dissapointed them.
MirianFonseca
12 July, 2017
andreaskluver@mirianfonseca U2 Berlin
with or without you
Maffy
12 July, 2017
Mafalda & Carlos from Portugal
We came to Berlin just to see you!
Sand_Man
11 July, 2017
Berlin - the Beautiful City
It's finally here. Long trip and great anticipation. We will sing, we will dance and it will be magic! What time is it in the Word??? SHOW TIME!!! Sand Man and Audrey
FergalDunne
10 July, 2017
Berlin Concert!!!
Totally looking forward to going to this gig..travelling over from London. was at the original Croke Park 28 June 1987... I have designed my own t-shirt!!! :)
mmbdh71
13 June, 2017
HI U2
Dear Larry, dear Adam, dear Edge, dear Bono, I have been very excited about the TJT 2017 tour especially on the setlist and its structure. The first block up to TJT is okay, you can do so. Then the album in order to play through with the video sequences is also a nice idea. Unfortunately, however, the addition block is completely beside it. With the additions much better songs from the same era as TJT-B sides as e.g. Silver and Gold, Spanish Eyes or Louminus Times. In particular, please be brave and bring something of Rattle and Hum, but not the classic ones, Hawkmoon 269, All Long the Watchtower, Helter Skelter, God Part II or Heartland is a wonderful song. The best thing is to let the fans vote for what is played in the bonus block. For me, it is very strange that Beautiful Day, Elevation, Ultraviolet and now also Vertigo are played. As a mover? This is no longer necessary at the show, if you look at the show alone of EXIT in the show, simply great. If you want to express yourself in social criticism and politics, Silver and Gold, Desire and the cover song of Jimi Hendrix All Long the Watchtower. Personally, the additions are far too good and tailored to the masses. I would be very happy if you see for Europe I see you in Berlin and Amsterdam II the setlist with the additions would adjust accordingly, so that the block still has a reference to the Joshua Tree Tour 2017. Best regards Michael from Hamburg
transmission
27 May, 2017
JOY!
OMG it's 30 years ago! Then in Cardiff Wales age 17, now in Berlin. And they are still a hell of vivid innovation, sparkling inspiration and spiritual (!) initiation. SO GRATEFUL TO CELEBRATE WITH YOU THE JOY AND FORTUNE OF LIFE AND TO SHARE THE VISION AND MISSION TO CHANGE THE FACE OF THE WORLD AND OURSELVES. EVOLUTION OF HEART, SOUL & CONSCIOUSNESS. THANK YOU LADS! GBY!
perezf3
12 May, 2017
U2 in Berlin
This will be my 13 years old son first U2 gig. I´m very happy to share this moment with him.
DrummerBoy1961
01 May, 2017
Mr Chris Donegan
Can't wait for this!
adriana_ferdov
15 January, 2017
Adriana
2 tickets
frankhillenbach
11 January, 2017
Frank hillenbach
2 Tickets
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